In John 21:21, Peter (always one who struggles to keep his foot out of his mouth) asks Jesus this little question that might seem innocent … “Lord, what about him?” However, I think this question gets at the heart of our need to compare.
You see, this question takes place immediately after one of the most intimate moments that Peter had with Jesus after the resurrection. Jesus had just refocused Peter onto the dual mission of loving Jesus and caring for people. This is what Peter was created to do … to put his focus on God and on others, but instead, he turns his eyes back on himself and asks Jesus how he compares to John.
Sadly, this is the way of all humanity. We compare ourselves to others. We want everything to be fair. And there is a certain sense in which we expect everyone to be like us … or some of us idolize others and say, “I should be like …” “What about him?”
Oddly, this comparison is especially true in the Christian world. “If you were really a Christian, you would think like me, dress like me, vote like me, behave like me, and on and on.” However, this idea comes from a misunderstanding of what it means to be made new in Christ (see Gal. 2:20 and 2 Cor. 5:17). Christ in you does not make you the same as others, so you shouldn’t expect others to be the same as you. In the BBC radio talks that eventually became Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis explains that while it is true that we have lost “what we now call ourselves” … “it isn’t true that we shall lose our personal differences by letting Christ take us over.” He explains this with an analogy:
If a person didn’t know about salt, wouldn’t he think that anything with such a strong taste would kill the taste of all the other things in any dish you put it into? We know, as a matter of fact, it brings out the real taste. Well, it’s rather like that with Christ. When you’ve completely given up yourself to His personality you will then, for the first time in your life, be developing into a real person.
What he is saying is that you will become more you! The real you! Not more like everyone else. And because of that, you don’t need to compare. Instead, you can … as the real “you” God created you to be and the real “you” Jesus freed you to become … you can live free from comparison and fulfill your true calling.
If you want to hear the fuller context of this in C.S. Lewis’ own words and voice, CLICK HERE for a recording of that original radio address.
By Josh Rose
Pastor of Adult Ministries
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